Attorney questions DA ruling

By Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate September 21, 2012 04:13 pm

Says charge may be attempt at cover-up

The defense attorney for Donald Heggie, who faces attempted murder charges after allegedly trying to run over a sheriff’s deputy during a pursuit, is questioning whether the District Attorney’s Office is attempting a cover-up.

District Attorney Jon Alexander  added an attempted murder charge against Heggie last week after announcing sheriff’s Deputy Richard Griffin did not commit a crime when he fired three shots at Heggie during the pursuit.

“Mr. Griffin’s shooting was not justified without the allegation of attempted murder,” said attorney Leroy Davies.

He said he was “wondering” if filing attempted murder charges was an attempt to exonerate Griffin.

 

“The bullets were discharged after the front of the car proceeded past Mr. Griffin,” said Davies. “The threat to Mr.  Griffin was passed by the time he pulled the trigger.”

Davies said he also questioned Alexander making a decision without receiving a report from Griffin.

Heggie, 45, of Salinas, is accused of leading authorities on a high-speed pursuit through Crescent City ending with his apprehension near a house on Whaleview Court off Pebble Beach Drive on Aug. 21.

In the middle of the pursuit, authorities tried to corner Heggie’s truck in the parking lot of the Seabreeze Apartments, 1045 E. Condor St., where he maneuvered passed them and continued on. 

Griffin fired three shots at Heggie’s truck.

The DA’s investigation concluded Heggie tried to run over Griffin, citing witness and police reports.

The three witnesses interviewed by the DA’s Office stated Griffin would have been run over by Heggie’s truck had he not moved out of the way, the DA’s Office said.

A witness interviewed by the Triplicate on the day of the pursuit stated Heggie looked to only be maneuvering past officers to escape.

“I’m not sure how you cover up an attempt to run over a uniformed officer in public in broad daylight that is witnessed by three impartial (individuals),” said Alexander. “My recommendation to exonerate Deputy Griffin of any criminal charges was the product of numerous public independent investigators ... I stand behind their investigation and conclusions 100 percent.”

An internal affairs investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office  concluded this week and Griffin has been reinstated to active duty, sheriff’s Commander Tim Athey said Wednesday.

“I think the DA took the totality of all the facts ... and filed appropriate charges,” said Athey.

Griffin was on modified duty while the Sheriff’s Office investigation was being conducted to review whether he violated any departmental policies.

The policy states shooting at a moving vehicle is rarely effective and deputies should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle if possible instead of discharging firearms at the vehicle or any of its occupants. 

Deputies should only shoot at the vehicle if they believe there are no other means to avert the threat, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the deputy or others, the policy states.

Deputies should not shoot at any part of the vehicle in an attempt to disable it, the policy states.

Heggie was being sought  as a suspect in burglaries and receiving stolen property.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Heggie is facing charges of receiving stolen property of $400 or less, two counts of resisting a peace officer, evading officers with wanton disregard for safety, battery on a peace officer and assault with a deadly weapon. 

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